Sunrooms: Home Energy Efficiency


Sunrooms are typical extensions for cold climates. Their warmer air can be driven to other rooms to heat them, while vents and operable windows can drive excessive heat during the summer and other warmer periods.In other words: sunrooms can contribute to balance indoor temperatures… But, instead of that, they are often a source of unwanted heat and cold. Sunrooms can easily unbalance or worsen the home’s energy-efficiency…

To avoid it, pay attention to its insulation, framing materials, location, windows…


Insulation of the sunroom adjacent walls, roof and ceiling, is crucially important for an extended use of it, or to avoid major thermal disruptions in the rest of the house. Unless you just want to use the sunroom in some favorable periods of the year, you should pay close attention to its insulation.

Note: if you just want to use your sunroom in short and favorable weather conditions, you must ensure that the sunroom is (or can be) thermally isolated from the rest of the house. The home doors and windows or its wall insulation should ensure that. Otherwise you will unbalance the indoor temperatures of your home in adverse weather conditions.


Non-glazed sunroom walls should include high-density exterior grade foam and a vapor barrier. Sunroom walls should be insulated to at least R-20. That’s crucial to obtain balanced temperatures in the rest of the building.

Sunroom Roofs

Sunroom roof materials and slopes vary. Glass roofs are common in many types of sunrooms, but be aware. Without a proper management of the internal temperatures in the sunroom (through ventilation, strategically placed vents, blinds, etc., overheating is unavoidable in hot weather conditions). And freezing temperatures will be also probable in cold weather…

Vented roofs, with exterior sheathing, vapor barrier, flashing, drip edge and building felt and lots of foam or bat insulation (to at least R-30) is very, very important..

To support heavy snow loads, conveniently ceilings and roof pitch are also crucial.


The type of glass and the type of framing materials used in the construction of the sunrooms are crucial to their thermal control.

Sunroom Location

Varying the amount of glass and the orientation of the sunroom will have a significant impact on its interior temperatures.

Sunrooms located on the south side of your house (north side, if you live in a southern hemisphere country) will get more sun and more heat, and you should pay attention to it. It’s often possible and even advantageous to locate the sunroom on east or west, as long it has a south-facing facade (north-facing facade in the southern hemisphere)*.

*Since sunrooms are typical extensions for cold climates, avoid north facades (south facades in the Southern hemisphere).


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